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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Influence of herbicide application on forb and arthropod communities of North American tallgrass prairies
Year: 2002
Author(s): Fuhlendorf, S. D., Engle, D. M., Arnold, D. C., Bidwell, T. G.
Source Title: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment
Source Type: Journal
pages: 251-259
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: The primary approach used for reducing “weeds” in the native grasslands of the North American Great Plains is the application of a broadleaf-selective herbicide, which could have important implications to native plant and arthropod diversity. The objectives of this study were to identify the influence of herbicides on the forb and arthropod community composition, richness, and density, and determine relationships among the forb and arthropod communities in a tallgrass prairie of the North American Great Plains. In 1994, arthropod and forb communities were evaluated in eight treatment units and then a broadleaf-selective herbicide was applied to four of these units. Sampling of arthropod and forb communities were sampled under similar conditions in 1995 for post-treatment effects. These communities were highly variable across years regardless of treatment (herbicide and no herbicide). The herbicide treatment caused a reduction in overall forb dominance the year after treatment. Species richness increased from 1994–1995 in both treatments but the increase was less in the herbicide treatment. The herbicide application had no overall effect on forb species composition. The lack of effect of herbicide on the forb community composition coupled with a significant effect on species richness suggests that an important effect of herbicide application was a reduction of rare forbs. Analysis of these tallgrass communities did not yield significant differences in arthropod abundance or richness between grasslands treated with a herbicide and grasslands not treated with a herbicide. The arthropod community was defined by extreme variability across years reflecting extreme fluctuations regardless of herbicide application.